One cannot help but wonder what Roberto Moulon might have written had he not published his first and only book the year before his death at age 88. The book is titled The Iguana Speaks My Name, and it is an arresting example of the “magical realism” genre.
The hallmark of magical realism is its expression of a primarily realistic view of the real world within which magical elements are revealed as fables, myths, and allegories. This is not a work of fantasy, but rather one which seamlessly weaves together threads of the real with the surreal to create something which is not quite either. Anyone who has spent any time in Latin America’s outlying villages will instantly understand why the genre has its most ardent practioners among writers including Gabriel García Márquez, Jorge Luis Borges, and Isabel Allende.
Moulon’s book is set in his native Guatemala, and is a collection of ten interlocking stories narrated by Quince, a writer living in the village of Panimache, near three volcanoes and a deep blue lake. He reveals himself as a keen observer of people and events in a land that “bled from a war no one wanted to notice.”
Panimache is a town teetering between its Mayan peasant culture and aspirations tied to modernity. It is populated by a bright mosaic of shopkeepers, peones, government soldiers, and guerillas. Quince’s friend Uno, a nature photographer, is reputed to be a shaman. Capitan Lobo commands soldiers waging war on a counterinsurgency. La China is a whore longing to be a muse.
Moulon’s language is simple and straightforward, yet rich in poetic metaphors that capture subtleties quite invisible to a camera lens. The narrative is so rich in imagery that readers cannot help but find themselves immersed in the other-worldliness of its setting.
None of this is a secret to the many writers in the Lake Chapala area who knew and still remember Roberto Moulon, but those who never had the privilege of knowing the man behind this work can still find him between its lines.
This book was a 2013 winner of the Benjamin Franklin Silver Award for Best First Book of Fiction, and named one of the top 25 Indie Fiction Books of 2012
Read more about Roberto Moulon, and find links to his work and reviews on Amazon here.
Check out the complete listing of RiberasAuthors by genre here.
(Posted by Antonio Ramblés.)